My mom has this old ass dog. Like old. 16 or 17. It was never a bright or fun or happy dog, and now it’s mostly blind, can barely hear, has some form of doggy-dementia or something, and has extremely thin long hair. It isn’t excited about anything- ever- but it does really hate everything. Always has. It’s a truly wretched creature.
I rescued Phoebe when I was a child, when I was too young to really understand that line between life and death. Phoebe should have died. Phoebe wanted to die. She had horrible mange, a crooked jaw, mouth infections, skin infections, ear infections, she was all busted and beat up, infection in her eyes and her eyelids inside out; I mean, Phoebe was as fucked as you could get. And it was not done to her by any person, she was part of a litter of mishaps. Born from a dog that looked only slightly healthier than her and twice as angry. Phoebe was barely hanging on and my childlike heart said: save her.
So I did. I begged and begged and finally my mom let me bring her home, clean her up, have her doctored, cut her hair…
And Phoebe hated me for it. She’s hated me since the beginning. She never really wanted to be my friend anyhow, and she certainly didn’t want to be alive, and after all my efforts to keep her living she thought I was the biggest piece of shit she had ever met.
So I naturally thought she was the cutest thing in the world. Because that’s how I am. And I went about my life and grew up (sort of) and moved away and went to college and Phoebe just shriveled up and continued to have weird skin diseases and eye infections and her teeth fell out and there was always something horribly wrong with her. Miserable little creature, she is. She’s always been a Job- plagued by boils and disasters and whatnot.
Now that we’re getting older, Phoebe and I have entered a new phase in our relationship where whenever she’s aware of my presence the disdain is absolutely profound. The good thing for me is she’s asleep at my feet right this moment and she hasn’t the slightest idea because practically all of her senses are gone. She’s hardly ever aware of anything. Her motor functions are failing as well- as her bladder would like to remind us all.
And while old age and ineptitude is heartbreaking, and her entire existence is kind of a shame, I still think she’s just awesome. And she still retains that hatred. She’s pretty ready to die, as she has been all along, and is still angry at the world each day she wakes up healthy. And I get that, I really do. Been all bummed out and cynical lately so I feel like I have a pretty solid grasp on sadness, but DAMN that dog is sad. And it’s all my fault.
Earlier I took her for a walk. You have to carry her up and down the stairs to the yard, which is terribly uncomfortable to her, and then she only makes it three or four feet. And then she stares. So today she stared at a particular bush- or a low hedge- or whatever, I don’t know it was dark. She stared at it for long enough to piss me off, and just as I was about to call an end to the walk, she took two awkward, stumbly steps and stood in the bush for another little bit. Poor little thing. I’m not even sure she has thoughts anymore. It’s hard to tell since her eyes glassed over years ago. When I brought her in after the walk she promptly bumped into a corner of the room and gave up finding her way out before even trying. Kind of awesome and pathetic all at once.
We kind of have a lot in common that way.